Climbing the Corporate Ladder in the Male-Dominated Cannabis Industry
Stephanie Gluchacki spoke about her humble beginnings with Canna Care Docs in 2013, describing herself as “rather unemployed” and newly divorced with two children before working for this cannabis clinic.
Spending time as a bookkeeper for a local grocery store, she came across an ad for what was “front desk help” for the newly developed Canna Care Docs in August of 2013. It was here that Gluchacki would begin her career within the cannabis industry, ultimately leading the company in what she claims was not just an organization, but a global movement bringing health and wellness to patients in need.
Beginning as front desk associate, she would develop many of the policies and procedures for Canna Care Docs, a medical cannabis clinic focused on educating patients on the therapeutic values of cannabis. As an established clinic brand within the United States, CCD has been successful in connecting potential patients with physicians to recommend cannabis, placing them on a path towards healing. Today, with 24 clinics serving 11 different states, Gluchacki has grand plans to turn CCD from an American chain, to a global company offering cannabis therapy.
Witnessing First-Hand the Powers of Medical Cannabis
Many of those policies and procedures that she developed in her early career at CCD are still used to this day. By working at the clinical level of CCD, she witnessed patients experience true healing with medical cannabis.
She reflects on seeing an older gentleman being pushed into a clinic in a wheelchair, with his family seeking cannabis therapy for palliative reasons.
“It was a very sad day for the patient,” says Gluchacki. “They looked to us as an organization with some hope in gaining their family member some comfort in his dying days.”
Offering the education and necessary tools to this patient’s family to use cannabis therapy for pain relief, this patient believed that this would be the first and last time he would be entering a CCD clinic.
“A year later this gentleman walked into our office for his renewal and announced to the entire clinic that he had been there a year before in a wheelchair,” she says. “It was remarkable to actually see the effects of cannabis in a case this extreme.”
“It was a wonderful patient journey to see that actually happen, to be there for his initial visit, give him hope and comfort, and actually see the effects and wonder of cannabis medicine.”
Adding A Woman’s Touch to The Cannabis Industry
Fall 2014 would see her role change by being promoted to finance manager.
She began developing accounting protocols, policies and procedures, working with regulatory bodies to enter new states while establishing and managing banking relationships for CCD.
“Banking relationships, for example,” she says, “having a more finessed touch to begin these conversations and establish these relationships certainly has been advantageous to approach with a softer side.”
She speaks candidly about her experience as a woman climbing the corporate ladder of Canna Care Docs. An industry that has been dominated by men, she believes that being a woman has offered great advantages.
“There is certainly is a stereotype to the industry,” she says.
“You envision some very rough kind of people to encounter within the cannabis industry. The stigma associated with cannabis is tied with a lack of professionalism. As a woman, I can go in representing the company at a professional level, and it’s a surprise to some people, to see that type of person break that stereotype offering a softer touch to an otherwise very hard industry.”
Gluchacki would be essential to the growth of CCD across the United States, taking the company from an LLC to an S corporation in 2015, and quickly being promoted to Chief Financial Officer and remaining integral to the operation’s accounting and regulatory framework.
After CCD was acquired by the clinical tech company MVC in early 2018, she is now tasked with bringing the trusted brand and voice of Canna Care Docs to Canada as the President of Clinical Operations. She aims to expand on the same education services of Canna Care Docs provided in the U.S., virtually into Canada.
Celebrating Every Cannabis Milestone
“I will say that working in this industry, particularly as a woman, it's very exciting. There is never a dull moment. You are working in an industry where you are constantly dealing with evolving regulations, red tape, regulatory concerns, and hurdles,” she says.
Speaking about her rise through the ranks of CCD, she urges women working within the cannabis industry to never give up. “On a professional level, from a day-to-day basis, you are constantly being told no. It’s a matter of hunkering down and facing those challenges, those difficulties, those hurdles head on and driving through.”
The journey for Gluchacki isn’t over of course, with her sights set high, the global movement of cannabis therapy has just begun and expansion to Canada is just the first step.